About Languedoc-Roussillon Wines
The two regions of Languedoc and Roussillon are usually appended together but they both represent very different styles of winemaking, very different terrains.
In the Languedoc, there has always been far more potential than there is in Roussillon, but over the years it has been wasted chasing volume as opposed to quality.
The grapes used are very similar to the Rhone, with the likes of Carignan, Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre making regular appearances among the reds, and Grenache Blanc and Bourboulenc vying with increasing plantings of Chardonnay among the whites. Fitou in the south is one of the best-known appellations, making strong earthy reds out of mainly Carignan, with Corbières, a little to the north, doing a similar job.
Minervois produces reds, too, but they lack the guts and glory of the Corbières and Fitou. Limoux, on the other hand, a little further inland, produces some lovely whites using Chardonnay. The Coteaux du Languedoc, however, is possibly the most far-reaching appellation within the Languedoc, and includes St-Chinian and Faugeres, both of which can produce some lovely, balanced, fruity reds. However, the Coteaux du Languedoc is particularly known for producing a large amount of Vin de Pays (this is essentially a 'country wine', and, rather than the name of the town or appellation dominating the label, it's the grape variety). Some are great and well priced, some are rather disappointing, but if you've got just a fiver to spend they can regularly deliver you a decent drop of red or white.
Rousillon is much smaller than the neighbouring Languedoc and makes what are best described as more rustic wines, along with its own particular speciality, a port-like wine that comes under the French classification of vins doux naturels. The Banyuls, just north of the Spanish border, is the most famous of these semi-fortified wines, along with Maury. In the case of still wines, many are produced under the Côtes du Roussillon Villages appellation, with the majority of reds made from Grenache and the majority of whites made from Grenache Blanc, Roussanne and Marsanne. However, the vast majority of still wines are made as Vin de Pays.
Major white grape varieties: Grenache Blanc, Bourboulenc, Chardonnay, Picpoul.
Major red grape varieties: Carignan, Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre.
Key areas to watch: Fitou is making a comeback, Corbières is reliable and St Chinian and Faugeres regularly overdeliver.
Names to look out for: La Baronne, Etang des Colombes, Meunier St Louis (Corbières), Alquier, Moulin de Ciffre (Faugeres), Cazal-Viel (St Chinian), Casenove,Mas Cremant,Mas Segala, Cazes (Roussillon).